This week, the entire Irish blogosphere was in uproar over some comments that were made by one of Ireland's leading beauty entrepreneurs, Marissa Carter.
During an interview on The Capital B, the fake tan mogul made some remarks that rubbed quite a few people up the wrong way.
In case you hadn't heard, here is what she had to say:
"Innovation is key to getting ahead. Never do the same thing twice because you won't get the same results. Brands copy us now all the time."
— Marissa Carter (@CarterMarissa) April 4, 2017
"They try to do what we did with Cocoa Brown when we initially started…working with bloggers to try and grow their brand. But that game is dead now, there's absolutely no authenticity left in that business."
"When I started Cocoa Brown bloggers still had credibility…they were telling the truth about the products that they tried. Now, the value of a blogger endorsement is nothing – there are no bad reviews anymore."
"There was an authenticity in the market when we started, you sucked up the bad reviews and delighted in the good reviews but at least it was real," she said.
Of course, Marissa is completely entitled to her opinion, and as someone who has started her very own business, Cocoa Brown, from scratch, Marissa is probably at a better vantage point than many to give an overview of a particular area of the market.
— Marissa Carter (@CarterMarissa) April 6, 2017
However, many bloggers and fake tan fans alike took issue with her statement, because Cocoa Brown is very well known as a brand that works very closely with bloggers.
In fact, the very day the comments came out, one very influential blogger was praising the brand on Instagram after receiving some brand new Cocoa Brown merchandise, which seemed pretty ironic to some Twitter users.
The comments really ruffled some feathers with the blogging community, who began to write posts about their own experiences with Cocoa Brown, and how they felt that they were all being unjustly tarred with the same brush.
Sorry screaming just saw this now obsessed w marissa shading bloggers while still trynna court them pic.twitter.com/JqFTjMXYOW
— Keira Gilleechi (@gilleechi) April 4, 2017
As someone who began blogging almost eight years ago (now I feel like a dinosaur), I began penning my internet thoughts at a time when the Irish blogging landscape was so small it was basically nonexistent.
Most of the typical high-status bloggers we all admire today hadn't even started yet, and you could probably count the amount of full time bloggers in the Irish community on one hand.
It was more of a wilderness than a landscape, to be honest.
At the time, I was just a 15-year-old projecting my thoughts about fashion, beauty and feminism out there and hoping my dial-up connection wouldn't crash before I had a chance to click save, but I was pretty well aware of who else was out there, and what kind of things they put their name to.
— MissBudgetBeauty (@MikhilaMcDaid) April 5, 2017
At the time, people were just posting their own reviews about products that they had bought themselves or complaining about the slagging they had gotten on Bebo that week, there were very few freebies, bloggers brunches or sponsorships, and press days were the territory of journalists and industry insiders only.
Now, the landscape has totally changed, it's full of thousands of amazing women who are taking the time to tell the world how they feel about certain things, and a lucky few of us sometimes get paid to do so.
It's when you add in these semi-new concepts of freebies or trading treatments for review that things have the potential to get a little shady, between people not disclosing that a post is sponsored, to people who just get so much free sh*t they simply don't have time to review it, and so adding a picture on Snapchat and saying it's great is one way to keep the brand's PR happy and ensure you stay on their invite list.
This definitely isn't an authentic way to present brands to your followers, but where do we draw the line between what is and isn't authentic?
Is it authentic if the product has been bought with the bloggers own money and reviewed independently? Or is it authentic if a blogger gets sent something for free but tries it and gives her best go at giving an honest review?
Will there not always be an underlying vested interest with the latter method to stay on the brand's good side thanks to the perks that come with it?
Or, can bloggers truly separate the longing to climb the ladder from wanting to keep brands on side?
When bloggers don't hashtag what is an ad, it gives all bloggers a bad name! Please just hashtag. Nobody minds you making money !
— TheBeautifulTruth.ie (@thebeauttruth) March 20, 2017
Obviously, bloggers can't just go on creating this free content when there are bills and rent to be paid, so giving a glowing Instagram review to a bottle of tan for a few quid doesn't seem so bad.
As established blogger and journalist Rosemary MacCabe pointed out in her blog post about the issue: " They are, after all, how we can afford to do what we do – and, if readers don’t read the posts because they think they’re not authentic, can you blame the bloggers who decide not to disclose?!"
Personally, I know bloggers are able to give honest (sometime too honest) reviews of products, I've done it myself, and so have many hundreds and thousands of others out there, so to say that the entire industry is one mass of dishonest yes-men does a disservice to the whole concept of blogging.
As someone who has been involved with blogging for the best part of a decade, I can say that it is true that the community is less authentic, but less is the operative word here. Not all bloggers choose to court brands for the sake of maintaining favour.
Marissa has since released a statement apologising for her comments.
"I’m deeply sorry for the words that I used to describe the blogging industry during my interview with The Capital B.It was wrong of me to tar an entire industry with the same brush after some previous bad experiences," she said, in a handwritten note posted to Twitter.
"I have always genuinely appreciated the blogging community and made an effort to reciprocate that support to both up-and-coming and established bloggers."
@CarterMarissa Fair play, was just a bad choice of words, I understood what was meant though.
I've always felt very appreciated as a blogger by you
— Yaz(Yasmine) (@GlitterMamaBlog) April 6, 2017
"Those that know me will know that I have never been the type of person to intentionally speak ill of anyone, or cause anger the way that my words have.
"I have always and will continue to recognise hard working and talented beauty bloggers. I hope those who have been affected by my words can accept my sincere apology."
Marissa clearly regrets her statements, but there have been mixed responses from the blogging community, not all of whom are willing to forgive and forget.
I feel that Marissa's apology lacks a little something. Can't put my finger on it. Ah yes, it's missing a bit of authenticity
— Karen Constantine (@lovelygirlybits) April 6, 2017
While the beauty mogul definitely projected a very negative view of bloggers, she obviously meant for her comments to refer only to those who actually are inauthentic, rather than branding the entire lot of us as such.
Perhaps in an industry which is already so notorious for being a little bitchy, we can take this as an instance of major foot in mouth by a company who has in the past proven that it relies on bloggers to build themselves up.
While I definitely think her comments were harmful, coming from such as established business woman, and misplaced, it's only through the work of truly authentic and hardworking bloggers that these impressions of the industry can be revoked.